Crashplan, One Year Later

Image representing CrashPlan as depicted in Cr...

Image via CrunchBase

A year ago, I won a free 1 year family subscription to Crashplan‘s online backup service on Twitter.  Initially, I was thrilled because I never win anything, but as the year went on I stayed thrilled once I saw what awesome software Crashplan is.  I’ve tried several off-site backup software packages when initially evaluating, including Mozy & Carbonite, and IMO none come close to Crashplan.  So, today I’m faced with the decision to renew my subscription, and I can’t make up my mind.

What makes Crashplan so great is that it combines power with ease-of-use.  It is truly everything you could want in a backup software package.  I’m not going to go into much detail because their website does a great job of that, but some of my favorite features:

  1. It supports OS X metadata.  Last I checked, it’s the only cloud backup service that does.
  2. It’s 448-bit encryption is unparalleled & you can use your own private key.  Using a private key is the best way to ensure nobody can get into your data but yourself.
  3. You can use it to backup to your own server or peer-to-peer & this doesn’t cost you anything except paying for the hardware you use.
  4. It’s cross-platform & runs on Windows, OS X, Linux, & Solaris.  If you have a Solaris backup server that uses ZFS, you have a killer backup solution.

So, with all these features, renewing my subscription should be a no-brainer, right?  Well, money is tight right now, especially after the holidays, so I’m having a hard time convincing myself to fork over the $120 for an additional year.  Crashplan supports multiple pricing tiers, so you can get a better monthly value than $120/year.  The majority of my conflicting decision is because of two primary reasons:

  1. My home ISP plan caps uploads at 1Mbps.  The initial backup of my Mac Pro downstairs took the better part of a month.  Any other time I’m doing backups, it does slow things down a bit even if I limit upload speed or try to adjust the schedule.  Laptops are particularly challenging because they can only be backed up while they’re being used (they’re sleeping otherwise).
  2. I also use Time Machine for backups.  My laptop & my wife’s laptop get backed up to the Mac Pro downstairs.  That backup disk is also backed up by the Mac Pro’s own Time Machine disk.  I also do a Time machine backup at work.  So, this backup strategy provides at least two levels of redundancy.

I could rectify these problems by upgrading my home ISP plan & also realizing that I’m not doing off-site backups.  The problem with upgrading my home plan is that it’ll cost at least $20 more a month to see any significant difference.  That’s not a Crashplan specific problem, since I would have the same problem regardless of the cloud-backup software I used.  Nothing I can do about that but wait until I get a raise.  :)  Not having off-site backups is what’s really bothering me.  Before the birth of my firstborn son, I probably wouldn’t care.  However, now my wife and I have tripled the size of our digital media libraries with tons of photos and videos and I know we would absolutely be devastated if they were lost.  While the odds of this happening may be very slim, the possibility of it existing at all leaves an uncomfortable feeling.

I think writing this post helped me realize what’s most important to me.  Having an off-site backup of our digital memories is worth it, just like having health/auto/fire/home insurance is worth it when you need it most.  $120 for a year’s worth of protection is all of a sudden starting to look less & less expensive.

Subscription:  renewed.